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Sydney CBD Chiropractor and Functional Medicine specialist Dr Adrian Clegg discusses the differences in treatment methods between migraine and cervicogenic headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches and migraine headaches are two of the most common types of headaches but can have extremely different causes. For effective headache treatment, it is crucial that the type of headache and the triggers are identified before any type of headache treatment is considered. 

Cervicogenic Headache Triggers and Relief

A cervicogenic headache is a type of structurally based headache which originates in the joints, muscles and soft tissues of the neck. The pain often starts in the back of the neck or base of the skull, traveling up over the head and spreading to the top of the skull, forehead and temple. Pain or discomfort may also be present behind the eye. Structural problems in the upper spine (cervical) region are often the cause. The atlas vertebrae (C1), axis vertebrae (C2) and the base of the skull is an area that is well known for causing cervicogenic headaches.

Upper cervical specific techniques such as Atlas Orthogonal technique has had tremendous results in correcting the cause of cervicogenic headaches when the upper cervical spine is contributing to the headache. Being based in the financial district many patients present to my Sydney CBD Chiropractic clinic with extremely poor posture.

This is due to two factors:

  1. Incorrectly set up work stations. Many people are sitting at computer monitors that are too low and/or the desk is not at the ideal height. The rise in the use of laptops is even more detrimental
  1. Regular breaks and stretching exercises are not being adhered to. Workers are either not completing the necessary stretching routine and taking regular breaks or they are not aware of what they should be doing to maintain ideal posture at their workstation throughout the day.

Pain or discomfort may also be present behind the eye. Structural problems in the upper spine (cervical) region are often the cause. The atlas vertebrae (C1), axis vertebrae (C2) and the base of the skull is an area that is well known for causing cervicogenic headaches.

Poor posture from workstation set up, sleeping posture, whiplash and sporting injuries can all contribute to disturbances in the cervical spine which can lead to cervicogenic headaches.

Headache treatment Australia wide has unfortunately been predominately in the form of pain relief medications. Long-term use of pain medications and anti-inflammatories has been shown to cause rebound headaches. You only need to take these types of medications for more than a couple of times a week for you to be at risk of developing a rebound headache. Migraine headache relief medicines have also been linked with rebound headaches

Many headache sufferers are unaware that many superior treatment methods exist to combat chronic headaches rather than relying on dangerous medications. Structural correction of the spine and cervical (neck) region can have dramatic results in providing long-term relief from annoying headaches. Opus Healthcare and Dr Adrian Clegg has been providing safe and effective headache treatment Sydney wide since 2001.

Headache treatment Australia wide has unfortunately been predominately in the form of pain relief medications. Long-term use of pain medications and anti-inflammatories has been shown to cause rebound headaches. 

Migraine Triggers and Relief

Although migraines and cervicogenic headaches can have similar symptomology, they also have many different triggers and hence require different treatment strategies. As in the cervicogenic variation, migraine headaches can be affected by the spine and specifically the upper cervical region of the spine. Specialized X-rays of the upper cervical spine are important for migraine patients.

A twisted atlas vertebrae has been shown to create a blockage in the flow of the cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF). When the atlas bone twists it can partially pull the cerebellum through the foramen magnum, the hole in the base of the skull (occiput bone). When the flow of CSF becomes compromised the ventricles of the brain can swell, this in turn affects arterial blood flow in the brain leading to a migraine.

Other causes of migraines include:

  • Adrenal gland insufficiency
  • Thyroid gland disorders
  • Blood sugar instability
  • Sex hormone imbalances (estrogen and progesterone)
  • Infections
  • Inflammation
  • Micro mineral imbalances such as magnesium
  • Candia (yeast) overgrowth
  • Parasitic or bacterial overgrowth
  • Neurotransmitter imbalances
  • Mitochondrial disorders
  • Tumours or space occupying lesions of the brain.

 

To achieve long-term migraine headache relief, it is crucial that the necessary functional medicine lab tests are performed, these include:

  1. Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis (FBCA)
  2. Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH)
  3. Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)
  4. Organic Acids
  5. Atlas Orthogonal X-rays
  6. Brain MRI

 

Due to Dr Clegg’s integrative approach to correcting the underlying cause of chronic health conditions, such as headaches and migraines, he has become one of the leading practitioners in headache and migraine treatments in Sydney and Australia.

If you're suffering from persistent headaches and migraines, book an appointment today or email us at adrian@opushealth.com.au.